Niwot Erie Girls Soccer

Niwot and Erie High Schools met in the First Round of the CHSAA 4A Girl’s Soccer playoffs yesterday.  Niwot capped a crazy comeback with a goal in the 2nd overtime to advance to the 2nd Round.  Erie led 3-2 with :25 left in regulation but failed to properly throw in the ball deep in Niwot’s end.  Niwot took advantage of the miscue going the length of the field to score the tying goal with 17 seconds left.  It was a fun game to photograph as the girls were playing hard as any number of players dove for balls or took hard hits.  A light rain also was falling throughout the game. Kudos to both teams for a hard fought, action-packed game.

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Calf Creek Falls

I decided to hike to Calf Creek Falls in the Escalante National Monument near Escalante, Utah this past weekend. Cloudy weather had put a damper on my plans to do some hiking along the Hole-in-the-Rock Road, so I stopped at the trailhead for the falls.  Calf Creek  Falls is a beautiful reward after a somewhat easy 3-mile hike through a pretty, riparian canyon.  The trail follows Calf Creek as it meanders through a deep canyon.  Along the way, many species of trees and birds can be spotted.  A number of Claret Cup cacti were blooming with their scarlet flowers as well.  The only drawback to the hike is that is features walking though deep sand the land mile or so.  The falls is tucked away at the end of the canyon.  

The trailhead for Calf Creek Falls is located about 15 miles form Escalante or 13 miles south of Boulder Town along Highway 12.     

Posted in Landscape, Uncategorized, Utah Tagged , , , |

Capitol Reef

I made a short trip to Capitol Reef National Park this past weekend.  The cottonwoods were just leafing out so it was a great time to be there.  I explored some new places and went to an old standby.  Overall, it was a fun trip but I wish the weather had been better so I could have explored Escalante National Monument.  Coyote Gulch will have to wait.    

Sheets Canyon

This is a short hike to a pretty slot canyon on the east side of the park.  Sheets Canyon is located off the Notom Road.  The trailhead is located just before the pavement ends, about 12 miles down the road.  The hike wanders through the Sheets Canyon wash for about a mile before the walls narrow.  There are some very interesting rock formation in the canyon.  The narrows stretches for about 1/2 mile and then the canyon widens.  The walls are quite high in this area so it is still an interesting through this part of the canyon.  There are a few chokcsotnes you have to scramble over in the narrows section but nothing too difficult.  

Cohab Canyon

The trail to Cohab Canyon is located near the Fruita barn just before the main campground in Capitol Reef.  It climbs steeply up a series of switchbacks before leveling off at the entrance to Cohab Canyon.  Just before the entrance there are some interesting rock formations and trees that make great photography subjects.  The canyon itself, has pink or orange walls, and is quite pretty.  The walls are pockmarked with holes, alcoves, and other cool features. In about 1/2 mile, the trail veers to the left and ascends to a view of Fruita and the campground below.  The one way total is just under 2 miles.     

Navajo Knobs Trail

The Navajo Knobs trail leads to a panoramic overlook after a hard 4.7 mile hike.  Luckily, the views are pretty spectacular most of the way so making the top isn’t a requirement to get a great view.  The trail starts about a mile from the visitor’s center along the main park road.  It climbs steeply and intersects with the Hickman Bridge trail in about half a mile.  Veer right at the junction and continue to climb up to a great view of Pectol’s Pyramid across the valley.  At mile 2.5, the trail comes to a view of the Fremont River and you are looking back across at the visitor’s center.  From here, the trail descends for about 3/4 of a mile which of course leaves a steep ascent back up a long ramp.   At this point, the views are amazing.  One last side canyon has to be routed around before reaching the top.  This is a steep and long hike but the effort is worth it.  Views can be had in any direction from here.   

Sulfur Creek

Sulfur Creek features a neat waterfall after a short 1 mile hike.  Take the trail to the right of the visitor’s center and veer around to the back of it.  When you come to the creek, head toward a power line straight across the creek.  You can also head left down stream but the walk is much longer and wetter this way.  After climbing a short rise you will come to a lime kiln on the right and then the trail cuts back down to Sulfur Creek.  The waterfall is about .75 of a mile from the visitor’s center.  It isn’t particularly large but the scene is pretty with the read rock of Sulfur Canyon framing the shot.  

Posted in Landscape, Utah Tagged , , , , |

Carrizo Plain Wildflowers

I drove out to the Carrizo Plain National Monument on a recent trip to California in hopes of seeing the superbloom there.  Other than fickle weather, I was not disappointed.  The flowers were everywhere.  The most abundant places to see wildflowers in Carrizo Plain were near Soda Lake and up in the foothills of the Temblor Range, along the Elkhorn Road, just past the Wallace Creek marker. The south side of Soda Lake had some of the densest patches of flowers I’ve seen.  I drove along the Simmler raid to the ELkhorn Road and this seemed to have the densest flowers.  The park rangers had said people had gotten stuck on the Simmler Road but this would be quite difficult.  It was a little sandy in a couple of spots but otherwise was drivable in a car.  Unfortunately, the wind was howling the day I was there so it was hard to capture the wildflowers’ beauty without a little motion blur.  

I camped in dispersed camping along the south end of the Elkhart Road.  I froze overnight in my tent in the park.  It got down to 34 degrees and I was only prepared to camp in the much warmer desert areas.  

If you’re planning to visit Carrizo Plain National Monument, it is about a 45 minute drive from San Luis Obispo or a two hour drive from Gorman, near the Antelope Poppy Reserve.  I drove in 5to the park from the south on highway 58.  It was a beautiful drive as even the hills along the road were filled with flowers.      

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Sigma 85mm 1.4 for sports photography

I recently tried out a Sigma 85mm 1.4 for sports photography.  Sigma’s new Art series lens has certainly been getting some positive press in other areas so I’d thought I’d try it out for sports photography.  I shot some high school basketball games with it to test the autofocus, sharpness, and vignetting.  All-in-all, the Sigma performed very well.  I tested the lens on a Canon 1DX Mark II at the Denver Coliseum, a moderately well-lit venue.

Autofocus

Perhaps the most important element for sports photography is autofocus.  A lens has to be capable of fast and consistent autofocus.  The Sigma definitely has one of these 2 traits and isn’t too bad on the other front.  Its autofocus is very fast.  In fact, it is faster than a Canon 70-200 2.8 L!  The the lens isn’t quite as accurate as I’d like, but consistency wasn’t a major factor either.  For example, out of 30 shots I might have 3 that are out of focus with the 70-200 2.8 L but the Sigma would get more like 7-8 out of focus over that same stretch. While 75% is still a good hit rate, it’s not in the league of the top Canon lenses for sure.  

Sharpness

As far as sharpness goes, the Sigma 85 1.4 is stunning.  I would say the lens is razor sharp at most apertures except for under f2.0.  This is truly extraordinary performance from an 85mm lens.  

Drawbacks

Well, everything good in life has a price and weight is the price you will pay for the high performance of this lens.  The Sigma weighs in at 40 oz.  If you think of it as a replacement for a 70-200 2.8, the weight won’t bother you so much.  But if you’re used to lightweight primes, the size of this lens will probably bug you a lot.   The narrow depth of field at wide apertures is also a drawback.  I am not one to drool over shots taken at f1.4 with completely blurred backgrounds.  In addition to the background being blurred, so is much of the subject at this aperture.  This was no different for sports.  The extremely narrow depth of field combined with some issues of autofocus inaccuracy makes this lens virtually unusable for moving subjects below f2.0 unless you’re willing to put up with a lot of images going in the trash bin.  

Recommendation

At apertures like f2.5 and 2.8, I really loved this lens for basketball. Having an extra stop of light when you need it like in poorly lit high school gyms is one reason to highly recommend this lens for some types of sports photography.  And of course, this lens just cannot be beat for portraits.  If you are in need of an 85mm lens, look no further than the Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art.  

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